SRS furloughs costly for employees as well as businesses - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

SRS furloughs costly for employees as well as businesses

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Thousands of Savannah River Site employees are working shorter days and coming home with less of a paycheck due to furloughs.

"It amounts to 20% of their pay and these are our friends and neighbors, so we're concerned about them and we're concerned also about what this means to our community," said David Jameson, the CEO of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce.

In order to close a budget shortfall of $70 million; 2,000 SRS employees have had their hours cut from 40 a week to 32 hours a week for the next two months.

Jameson estimates the furloughs will cost Aiken County about $15 million in lost revenue over the next nine weeks.

Van Smith owns Lionel Smith Ltd., a high-end clothing store in Aiken for men.

He said they'll feel the pinch of the furlough, "It's just a ripple effect and the ripple hurts us."

Smith says he's changing the way he does business to make up for the dollars that won't be spent in his store.

"Cutting back on inventory a little bit, ordering more from vendors at different times during season instead of ordering up front, keeping everything flowing a lot better and smarter," explained Smith.

He thinks that well help them survive the days when business is sluggish.

"I feel like the downtown and our store is going to make it. It's just a matter of having to do business different," Smith, said.

But Smith hopes it won't be long until business is normal again; but Jameson worries that may not happen.

"If things don't get fixed, this furlough could go deeper," said Jameson.  

Even though the furlough is sequester related, Jameson says ultimately it comes down to the Department of Energy budget shortfall.

He says if they can't balance the budget the furlough could last longer than two months.

No one at SRS was available to comment.

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